When I M-x edit-kbd-macro, it prompts saying:

Keyboard macro to edit (C-x e, M-x, C-h l, or keys):

Here, I would hit M-x. It will then allow me to enter the name of the macro. I have several named macros (fset 'macro-name ...) entries in my ~/.emacs file and I can select the one I want to edit.

But when I have:

(global-set-key (kbd "M-x") 'smex)

in my ~/.emacs, when I do M-x edit-kbd-macro and hit M-x to start selecting a name, it produces an error.

How do I resolve the conflict?

2 Answers 2


Arguably this is a bug in edit-kbd-macro: it prompts for M-x but it checks for something bound to execute-extended-command. An easy workaround is to give some other key sequence bound to execute-extended-command instead of M-x. By default, you could use the Menu Key for that.

As of Emacs 26 (where Bug#29399 is fixed) it will work properly if you use remap to bind smex:

(define-key global-map [remap execute-extended-command] 'smex)
  • Thanks. That is elaborate. Although I did not understand it, not being an expert in emacs. However, to solve my problem, I did something simpler. I changed the 'smex line in ~/.emacs to (global-set-key (kbd "M-]") 'smex). But if this is a bug, do developers watch this forum?
    – deshmukh
    Nov 22, 2017 at 14:06
  • Don't count on developers watching SE.emacs and determining what needs to be done. Use M-x report-emacs-bug to report a problem or suggest an enhancement.
    – Drew
    Nov 22, 2017 at 16:00
  • I submitted bug #29399 for this.
    – Drew
    Nov 22, 2017 at 16:29
  • @deshmukh The code was just to point out the problem, I've removed it since it doesn't really help answer the question.
    – npostavs
    Nov 23, 2017 at 0:20
  • @npostavs Unfortunately, my keyboard does not have a Menu key. So, I resorted to using M-]
    – deshmukh
    Nov 23, 2017 at 4:11

Giving a "name" to a keyboard macro defines the macro as the symbol-function for the symbol that has that name as its symbol-name. In other words, the name you provide names a command.

What do you mean by "when I try to name a macro using M-x"? Just what did you do?

It doesn't sound like you just provided M-x as the name of your keyboard macro. There's no problem doing that. That defines a symbol M-x, giving it a symbol-function value that is the macro. So you can then do M-x M-x to run the macro. Or you can then bind that command, M-x to a key.

But if you don't bind your command M-x to a key then the key M-x is still bound to command smex.

So it's not clear just what you tried to do.

Here is what C-h k C-x C-k n says, BTW:

C-x C-k n runs the command kmacro-name-last-macro, which is an interactive compiled Lisp function in kmacro.el.

It is bound to C-x C-k n.

(kmacro-name-last-macro SYMBOL)

Assign a name to the last keyboard macro defined.

Argument SYMBOL is the name to define.

The symbol's function definition becomes the keyboard macro string. Such a "function" cannot be called from Lisp, but it is a valid editor command.

Note the last sentence, in case your problem was that you were trying to call it from Lisp.

  • Thanks. That was very detailed. I have edited the question. My problem is reproducible thus. (a) Have (global-set-key (kbd "M-x") 'smex) in ~/.emacs. (b) have some named keyboard macros also in ~/.emacs (c) edit-kbd-macro and at the prompt, (d) M-x to supply name of the macro to edit. It will produce an error saying: Key sequence M-x is not a keyboard macro. Remove the global-key-set from ~/.emacs, restart emacs and now there is no error.
    – deshmukh
    Nov 22, 2017 at 11:20

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